October 24, 2018

Just one alcoholic drink a day could shorten your life, study says

13 April 2018, 11:39 | Silvia Roy

Five pints a week can take its toll Dominic Lipinski PA Wire

A man drinking beer

The global study, published in the Lancet journal, also found drinking more alcohol gave a greater risk of suffering a stroke, heart failure, and fatal aneurysm.

The National Health and Medical Research Council is now undertaking a revision of the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol 2009. The Lancet study, however, found no evidence to support different guidelines for women and men.

Otago University Professor Jennie Connor, of the Department of Preventative and Health Medicine, who researches alcohol and its effects, said the study showed New Zealand's drinking guidelines should come down.

"Recommended limits in Italy, Portugal and Spain are almost 50 percent higher than this, and in the United States of America, the upper limit for men is nearly double", the researchers found.

The limit for women is 11 standard drinks (110 grams of pure alcohol) - also with at least two to three alcohol-free days.

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Although it concluded that alcohol did lower the risk of non-fatal heart attacks, it found that "on balance" there were no health benefits from drinking.

Updated advice from the UK's chief medical officer said it is safest for men and women not to drink more than 14 units a week - equal to six pints of beer or six glasses of wine. In one of the largest worldwide alcohol consumption studies, the researchers noted that taking over six glasses of wine or six cans of beer per week can reduce years of life.

Limits in Italy, Portugal and Spain are about 50 per cent higher than in Britain, where the threshold for safe drinking was recently lowered to 112g.

"These recommended drinking levels will no doubt be described as implausible and impracticable by the alcohol industry and other opponents of public health warnings on alcohol".

Several Australian studies were part of this collaboration, contributing to the research and making the findings relevant to Australians.

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Having as little as one alcoholic drink a day could shorten your life, according to a major new study.

"This study makes it clear that alcohol leads to many other diseases which, in total, increase the risk of death". "The paper estimates a 40-year-old drinking four units a day above the guidelines has roughly two years lower life expectancy, which is around a 20th of their remaining life".

Jeremy Pearson of the British Heart Foundation, a group that partially funded the study, said in a statement that it "is a serious wake-up call for many countries".

The researchers factored in other health-related data such as the participants' age, gender, diabetes history, their socio-economic status, and whether they smoked.

"Evidence reviews on the health effects of alcohol consumption are now underway, which will help inform the recommendations in the revised guidelines", a spokesman says.

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